Monday, 4 May 2015

Parakeets vs Rat Snake: A Remarkable Encounter in the Gir Forest of Gujarat

The first of a short series on our trip around the national parks and sanctuaries of Gujarat with Naturetrek. We came across this remarkable battle between Rose-ringed Parakeets aka Ring-necked Parakeet (Psittacula krameri) and a Rat Snake (Ptyas mucosus now sillily feminised to P. mucosa apparently). The noise from the tree, where the parakeets had a nest hole, drew everybody’s attention as we were driven along the track in the Gir Forest. The defence by the parakeets was a collective display of aggression that involved a great deal of fluttering, feinting and biting the tip of the snake’s tail. Reinforcements flew in, and the question was then: how related are members of the defending flock—previous offspring or siblings maybe—and which family members looked after the dangerous end of the snake? You will see the outcome if you watch the video to the end (better viewed at full size in YouTube), suffice it to say that there was an eventual and then hasty downward retreat.

Where the parakeets who were living dangerously in attacking the snake following J.B.S. Haldane’s famous dictum on kin selection: I would lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins?